The African honey bee is a subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...
of the Western honey bee. It is native to central and southern Africa, though at the southern extreme it is replaced by the Cape honey bee, Apis mellifera capensis
This subspecies has been determined to constitute one part of the ancestry of the Africanized bee
Africanized honey bees, known colloquially as "killer bees", are a hybrid variety of the European honeybee , generated by a man-made breeding of the African honey bee, A. m. scutellata, with various European honey bees such as the Italian bee A. m. ligustica and A. m. iberiensis. These bees are far...
s (also known as "killer bees") spreading through America.
The African bee is being threatened by the introduction of the Cape honey bee into northern South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...
. If a female worker from a Cape honey bee colony enters an African bee nest, she is not attacked, partly due to her resemblance to the African bee queen. Now independent from her own colony, she may begin laying eggs, and since A.m. capensis
workers are capable of parthenogenetic reproduction, they will hatch as "clones" of herself, which will also lay eggs. As a result the parasitic A. m. capensis
workers increase in number within a host colony. This leads to the death of the host colony on which they depend. An important factor causing the death of a colony seems to be the dwindling numbers of A. m. scutellata
workers that perform foraging duties (A. m. capensis
workers are greatly under-represented in the foraging force of an infected colony) owing to death of the queen, and, before queen death, competition for egg laying between A. m. capensis
workers and the queen. When the colony dies, the capensis
females will seek out a new host colony.
A single African bee sting is no more venomous than a single European bee sting, though African honeybees respond more quickly when disturbed than do EHBs. They send out three to four times as many workers in response to a threat. They will also pursue an intruder for a greater distance from the hive. Although people have died as a result of 100-300 stings, it has been estimated that the average lethal dose for an adult is 500-1,100 bee stings.
- Species Profile- Africanized Honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata), National Invasive Species Information Center, United States National Agricultural Library
The United States National Agricultural Library is one of the world's largest agricultural research libraries, and serves as a National Library of the United States and as the library of the United States Department of Agriculture...
. Lists general information and resources for Africanized Honeybee.